One thing many people have learned through their years of schooling is that at one point books have been banned. Whether it was for religious reasons, political movements, or overall fear, books were banned. Now for thirty-four years on the last week of September, the United States of America celebrates Banned Books Week.
But what really is Banned Book Week? Why should we celebrate this? One thing that the United States is known for is its freedom. Its freedom to let individuals speaks yet books are still being banned or censored. This week is meant to highlight that people should be allowed to read and explore the many books that wonderful authors have written. But instead, elementary and middle schools continue to take books off of their shelves and refuse to teach certain books because they contain “offensive” material. Parents sometimes are the cause of books being banned as they do not want their child being taught something that goes against what they would teach their child. Often, parents do not want their children reading something that has racism or sex in it without direct punishment as they feel that it teaches their children that they can do these things. Examples of such books are: The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.
The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling has been challenged and banned in some schools due to its focus on witchcraft, dark storyline, and can set bad examples for children. This particular series of books has been a favorite of mine since I was four years old. My experience with these books is nothing short of amazing. It taught me that being a good friend and surrounding myself by good friends is what will help me in life, rather than being surrounded by the rich and “powerful” families. I learned that I needed friends who would stick with me through everything, no matter what was going on in my life, like Hermione and Ron do for Harry and vice versa. It also taught me that love is one of the most important things in life and that it can save you, whether figuratively or literally in a sense. I never once thought about rebelling against an evil teacher, unless I was completely correct in doing so. Nor did I ever think that it was okay to be racist like the Malfoy family. Overall, if you want to read about a boy wizard, do it. If you do not want to read it, obviously you have that choice.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is a classic, yet schools and parents ban this book because it’s seen as racist and can make people uncomfortable. I can understand not wanting to teach children that it is okay to be racist because that is not okay. What I do not understand is why it is not allowed to be taught to teenagers who should be able to handle knowing that racism should not be tolerated.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is a book that is banned because it mentions masturbation, profanity, racism and deals with very hard subject matters such as alcoholism and death. I just read this book in my English 418 class. Although it does deal with dark matters, there is nothing wrong with allowing a ninth grade student to read this book. I loved this book because even though it touched on dark matters, it made it very clear that alcoholism was never okay and there would always be negative consequences to go along with it. Alexie also made it very clear that Junior, the protagonist of the story, was never better than anyone else.
Those three books are only a very small examples of banned books. If you would like more information on which books are banned or challenged, you could go to http://www.ala.org/bbooks/bannedbooksweek.
If you would like to participate in Banned Books Week, Monday 9/26/2016 the six o’clock series in the HUB Ohio room is focusing on “What’s Pop Culture and Why Do Diverse Pop Culture Voices Get Challenged?” hosted by the Pop Culture Methodologies group. On Wednesday 9/28/2016 from 1-2PM in the HSS Atrium there will be a read-out. Come and listen to excerpts from banned books or if you’d like to read something yourself you can sign up to do so! There will be refreshments, prizes and vouchers at this event. Hope to see everyone there!